Monday, July 9, 2007

Prepare To Be Assimilated

Portrait Of Unconstitutionality: La. Judge Defends Jesus Picture In Courthouse
A local judge in Slidell, La., says he has no intention of removing a religious display from his courthouse.

The ACLU of Louisiana sent a letter to the Slidell City Court on June 20, asking the clerk to remove a 16th century Russian Orthodox painting called “Christ the Savior” and its accompanying message, “To know peace, obey these laws.”

The civil liberties group argued that the display in the courthouse lobby violates established church-state law forbidding government endorsed religion. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2005, ACLU attorneys wrote, struck down a similar religious display in a Kentucky courthouse because it advanced religion.

City Court Judge Jim Lamz will have none of it. He called a press conference last Saturday to grandstand and thumb his nose at the ACLU. Lamz posed under the display and was surrounded by the town’s mayor, local clergy and at least one national Religious Right figure.

Lamz argues that the painting has a “historical place in the courthouse,” reported the New Orleans Times-Picayune. That’s surprising because the painting has hung for only a decade. The Supreme Court has occasionally grandfathered in religious displays on public property, but such displays have stood uncontested for several decades. “Christ the Savior” is also one of only two pieces of art in the courthouse’s main hall. The other is a portrait of the building’s namesake.

Slidell Mayor Ben Morris vilified the ACLU at the press conference and called for fighting “these tyrants, this American Taliban, who seek to destroy our culture and our heritage.”

"The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame.

"True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge. Did Darrow, in the course of his dreadful bombardment of Bryan, drop a few shells, incidentally, into measurably cleaner camps? Then let the garrisons of those camps look to their defenses. They are free to shoot back. But they can't disarm their enemy."

--H.L.Mencken (1880 - 1956), newspaperman, book reviewer, political commentator, and proud Grumpy Old Man.

Go to The Wall of Separation for the rest.